While demand generation is not the marketing buzz word it was a few years ago, it still must be the cornerstone of your marketing efforts. But, it is also crucial to realize that demand generation has changed significantly with the advent of social media and the decline of some traditional marketing tactics, like tradeshows and direct marketing.
I’ve talked about many of these things and more about demand generation over the last several blog posts (here, here and here). I will continue to talk about generating demand in future blog posts but before I explore how to build credibility in the coming weeks, I did want to look at what I see as the three biggest changes to demand generation after social media over the last number of years.
Marketing automation tools
This market has exploded over the last decade with companies such as Eloqua, Marketo, Hubspot and more leading the way. Today, the industry is quickly consolidating with a few vendors that are trying to offer an all encompassing suite for sales, customer service, marketing and more. But even as the industry moves forward, many companies are still not leveraging the benefits of automating their campaigns and tracking them for ongoing improvements.
Put simply, if you are not leveraging these tools then your marketing campaigns just aren’t as effective or efficient as they could be. Marketing automation allows companies to setup a campaign quickly and then have it run in the background while moving onto the next one rather than having to plan and send each email manually for example. It also allows you to track the metrics so you can quickly make tweaks along the way and more importantly integrates with the CRM system so it can be tied to the sales funnel and give an overall ROI.
The term inbound marketing was coined by HubSpot’s Brian Halligan, in 2005, but the term is synonymous in many ways with the concept of permission marketing that was explained in the book by Seth Godin, published in 1999. Inbound marketing is basically using content marketing, another recent term, to promote your company and get found through blogs, eBooks, white papers, SEO and more recently social media, rather than using outbound marketing such as cold-calling, direct mail, advertisements, etc.
I’ve talked about the importance of creating content and using it to generate demand so for me many of these concepts are not new but by putting a name on this collection of tactics this approach got more validity and rightly so. However, I would argue that it’s not a decision between outbound and inbound marketing that needs to be made but rather what is the mix between the two. For many companies this is still being figured out but using only one or the other is not going to result in the success you hope for your campaign.
Search engine marketing clearly changed the advertising industry for the better and as the digital advertising market has continue to evolved, it’s allowed for even better or more finely tuned targeting. Behavioral targeting uses information collected from an individual’s web-browsing to select which ads to display. It can be as simple as serving ads after the customer has left the site but when a sale did not occur. This (re)targeting is powerful and clearly minimizes waste and increases conversions
However, as the ads have become even more targeted some have raised privacy and other concerns. The issue is related to how users are tracked online, what happens with that information and how it is used. But if we put aside these concerns for a moment and believe that legitimate and respected companies will not abuse this capability, then it’s hard to argue the effectiveness of being able to target your marketing efforts so finely that your offers are placed in front of prospects only when you have proof they are interested in your solution.
This list is far from complete and leading edge marketers continue to use new techniques and technologies to improve the effectiveness of their campaigns and also track them more accurately. The next trend could emerge tomorrow or months from now but rest assured these are not the only changes to demand generation nor will they be the last.
It’s also important to note that many of the sound principles behind your demand generation program will not change regardless of the next trend and smart marketers will be the ones that leverage the right techniques for their audience at the right time to deliver their message and campaign.